Ariel Quiroz, a 42-year-old wedding painter who lives in Lahaina, Hawaii, had woken up at 5 a.m. Tuesday to no electricity and strong winds. In the afternoon, he noticed movement outside: One of his neighbors was spraying his house with water as smoke clouds billowed in the distance.

Quiroz, who lives in a condominium complex just off Front Street, thought that wetting his house might save it from the flames, and so he did the same. Even before local authorities told everyone to evacuate around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, he and his wife had documents, prized possessions and two cats ready to leave.

As they drove away from the flames, Quiroz and his wife saw bushes burning, telephone poles and trees knocked down and smoke everywhere. Noise from power lines burning “exploded like popcorn,” he said in an interview Saturday. The couple and their cats are staying at a friend’s house in Kihei, about 24 miles southeast of Lahaina.